As evidenced once again with the news that middleweight Cung Le had tested positive for human growth hormone (HGH), the UFC is ramping up its drug testing practices in 2014. Le, who lost his UFC Fight Night 48 bout against Michael Bisping, was the latest fighter to test positive for a performance enhancing drug (PED). The 42-year old Le was suspended by the UFC for a year for the violation.
And that fight took place in Macau, where the UFC was acting as its own regulatory body.
On Wednesday, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta appeared on set for a taping of UFC Tonight and was asked what the UFC is doing to combat the problem of rampant PED use in the UFC.
"Well, actually it's becoming less of a problem, because we have really stepped up our game as far as testing," Fertitta said. "So for these athletes there's nowhere to hide. The first step was working with the various athletic commissions to make sure we had testing for the night of the fight, for every fighter on the card. Whereas it used to be years ago, it was more of a random basis. They would test the main event and maybe some of the others fighters. We said, you know what, we'll pay for it -- we'll test everybody on the card.
"And then as some of these performance enhancing drugs started to maybe evolve and get better, it's harder to test for some of those drugs, because they were out of your system apparently quickly. So we started to implement random testing. Working with the Nevada State Athletic Commission and funding that testing protocol."
Fertitta has been vocal about the UFC's effort to be more proactive in cleaning up the sport. Even though it's too expensive to administer enhanced drug testing for every bout, he said the goal is that every fighter will undergo random drug tests several times a year.
"Now the next step for us, and what we're working on, is a complete project where we will randomly test all 500 of our athletes multiple times per year. We're working on that. It's going to be a comprehensive plan. And you know what? At the end of the day, if you're cheating, we will catch you. You will get suspended, possibly fined, and we take it very serious. Because...our fans want to make sure our sport is clean [and] I think the athletes want the sport to be clean. The clean athletes want the sport to be clean."
Another topic that Fertitta touched on was that of domestic abuse, a subject that has taken the forefront of the sports world with the Ray Rice case. It's also been a topic within the UFC, with the recent cases of now-former UFC fighter Thiago Silva and currently suspended light heavyweight Anthony Johnson.
"We implemented our code of conduct years ago," Fertitta said. "And in that code of conduct that every fighter signs it specifically says that domestic violence is something that is clearly a breach of our code of conduct as it does various other things. We take it very serious.
"Unfortunately we've had a couple of situations recently that we've had to address. We have done that. We suspended Anthony Johnson when it came out that he had an allegation against him. We have a process in place were we have a third party law firm that has experience in these issues, and they go out and do their own investigation. They get as many of the facts as they possibly can working with law enforcement, interviewing the athletes, interviewing the potential victims, write up a full report and make a recommendation to us as far as what we should do.
"And in this case, because we're still going through that process, Anthony is suspended, pending when we do get all that information, and at the end of the day we'll make a decision as to whether we part ways or we'll see what happens on how that plays out. And we're also going to be watching to see how the procedure with the courts plays out as well. But it's very serious. It's something we take very serious, and it's not going to be tolerated."